- The U.S. Population Is Growing at the Slowest Rate Since the 1930s – Population Reference Bureau
- Figure 1. The U.S. Population is Increasing but the pace of growth is slowing
- Figure 2. The Fastest Growing Counties Are Located in the South and West
- Fastest Growing States 2021
- 1. Idaho
- 2. Arizona
- 3. Nevada
- 4. Utah
- 5. Texas
- 6. South Carolina
- 7. Florida
- 8. Washington
- 9. Delaware
- 10. Montana
- Which States Are Gaining, Losing Most Population During Pandemic?
- Top 5 states for population growth
- 5 states losing the most population
- Why Texas is growing so quickly
- Where does your state rank?
- Learn more:
The U.S. Population Is Growing at the Slowest Rate Since the 1930s – Population Reference Bureau
The pace of U.S. population growth is slowing, according to the Census Bureau’s 2018 estimates and 2020 projections, which provide a preview of 2020 Census results. The U.S.
population has increased each decade since the first census was conducted in 1790, surpassing 50 million by 1880, 100 million by 1920, and 200 million by 1970. The 2010 Census was the first head count in which the U.S. population exceeded 300 million.
However, the rate of population growth from one decade to the next has declined since 2000 (see Figure 1).
The U.S. population increased by 10 percent between 2000 and 2010 and is projected to increase by 8 percent between 2010 and 2020, from 309 million to 333 million. An 8 percent gain would be the smallest percentage increase in the U.S.
population between censuses since the 1930s; the projected numerical increase of 24 million people would be the smallest gain since the 1980s. Yet, between 2010 and 2018, the U.S. population only increased by 6 percent.
Unless the rate of population growth increases over the next two years, the United States may not reach the Census Bureau’s projected population size in 2020.
Figure 1. The U.S. Population is Increasing but the pace of growth is slowing
U.S. Population and Percentage Increase in Population Between Census Years, 1790 to 2060
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, decennial censuses, and vintage 2018 population estimates
Growth in the number of households has also slowed, and population growth is on track to outpace household growth this decade for the first time since the 1930s.
Between 2000 and 2010, the number of households increased by 11 percent, but household growth rates declined during the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009 and the slow economic recovery that followed. Between 2010 and 2017, the number of households increased by only 3 percent.
For the household growth rate to equal the Census Bureau’s projected population growth rate of 8 percent, the number of households would have to increase by almost 6 million between 2017 and 2020. This level of growth seems unly given that the number of households only increased by 3.3 million over the seven-year period from 2010 to 2017.
If the number of households continues to increase at the current average annual rate until 2020, the total increase for the decade is more ly to be around 4.8 million, representing a growth rate of only 4 percent—less than half the rate for the 2000 to 2010 period.
In the long term, slower population and household growth could negatively affect the future U.S. economy by reducing the supply of workers, the tax base, and the demand for goods and services. This slowdown could also reduce demand for new home construction and lead to declines in home values.
Although U.S. population growth has slowed, the rate of growth has been uneven across regions and states. The most recent estimates show that the South’s population grew 9 percent between 2010 and 2018, with the West right behind at 8 percent. Conversely, the population grew just 2 percent in the Midwest and 1 percent in the Northeast.
Regional and state population trends are important not only from a demographic and economic perspective, but also because they affect the balance of political power in Congress.
State population totals from the 2020 Census will determine how many congressional seats each state will have over the next decade, starting in January 2023 when the 118th Congress takes office.
Florida, with an estimated 21.3 million residents, has surpassed New York (population 19.5 million) as the nation’s third-largest state behind California and Texas.
Between 2010 and 2018, 19 states (plus the District of Columbia) grew faster than the national average, and all but two (North Dakota and South Dakota) were in the South and West.
In nine of those states and the District, the resident population increased by more than 10 percent.
Among the states, Utah, Texas, Florida, Colorado, and North Dakota grew the fastest between 2010 and 2018. North Dakota’s rapid population gains are linked to the oil boom earlier in this decade.
1 The boom, however, has shown signs of slowing in recent years: Between 2016 and 2018, the state’s population growth rate was just under 1 percent—slightly below the national average (1.
3 percent) and well below the 4 percent growth rate of Idaho, Nevada, and Utah.
The population declined in three states between 2010 and 2018: Connecticut, Illinois, and West Virginia. West Virginia’s population has declined every year since 2013, while the other two states have experienced net population loss each year since 2014. In addition, Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, and Wyoming had fewer residents in 2018 than in 2016.
The post-2010 demographic situation is especially bleak in Puerto Rico. Between 2010 and 2018, Puerto Rico lost more than half a million residents, or 14 percent of its 2010 population. The rate of loss in the U.S.
territory is nearly six times that of West Virginia, the state with the steepest population loss.
Puerto Rico’s population decline is the result of both a financial crisis that first hit the territory in 2006 and the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Maria in 2017.2
These divergent population trends since 2010 have been even more pronounced at the county level. Between 2010 and 2018, nearly one-fifth of the nation’s 3,142 counties and county equivalents grew at or above the national rate of 6 percent; 340 of these counties grew 10 percent or more (see Figure 2). In contrast, more than half of U.S.
counties (about 1,650) have experienced net population loss over the same period, with roughly 550 counties losing at least 5 percent of their residents. Most of the counties in the latter group started experiencing a net loss of residents as far back as the 1940s, and many have been declining in population since before the Great Depression.
Figure 2. The Fastest Growing Counties Are Located in the South and West
County Population Change, April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2018
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, vintage 2018 population estimates.
Counties in large metropolitan areas (1 million population or more) saw the largest population gains. As a group, their populations increased 8 percent between 2010 and 2018, and nearly half of them grew faster than the national average.
In contrast, noncore counties—those located outside metropolitan and micropolitan areas—have been the biggest demographic losers since 2010.
3 Noncore counties as a group had a net loss of about 2 percent of their population between 2010 and 2018. While noncore counties comprise 42 percent of all U.S.
counties, they accounted for 58 percent (967 of 1,656) of the counties that lost population.
Counties with diversified economies and access to recreational activities (entertainment industries or natural amenities) have also fared much better than those dependent on agriculture or manufacturing.
This article is excerpted from Mark Mather et al., “What the 2020 Census Will Tell Us About a Changing America,” Population Bulletin 74, no. 1 (2019).
Fastest Growing States 2021
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the U.S. population to be approximately 329 million as of 2020, a 0.35% increase compared to 2019.
Some states saw significant increases in population numbers that contributed to this overall growth. However, other states saw a population decline. According to the U.S.
Census Bureau, the top fastest-growing states during this period were Arizona and Idaho.
The U.S. Census Bureau data show that the most significant population growth occurred throughout the South and West regions of the U.S. Each region recorded an increase of 0.77% and 0.45%, respectively.
However, not all states in these regions saw growth. The Census Bureau estimates that 16 U.S. states law population loss in 2020, such as California, Connecticut, Hawaii, West Virginia, and Illinois.
Idaho had a population growth of 2.12%, growing from 1,789,060 to 1,826,913. People from all over the U.S. are being drawn to Idaho for its affordability and the strong job market. Additionally, Boise has a rapidly growing tech sector.
Many people migrating to Idaho are from California, most ly due to its affordability (especially compared to California) and a much lower population density. Despite the state's rapid growth, it is the 12th-smallest state in the U.S.
Arizona is the second-fastest growing state with a percent growth of 1.78%. Arizona’s population increased by 129,558 from 7,291,843 in 2019 to 7,421,401 in 2020.
Arizona is attractive because of its sunny weather, good job market, affordability, and a wide variety of entertainment options such as festivals, museums, celebrity-owned restaurants, and more. Arizona also has the Grand Canyon.
Arizona is considered one of the states with the best weather.
Nevada is the third-fastest growing state in the United States. Between 2019 and 2020, Nevada’s population increased 1.54% from 3,090,771 to 3,138,259. A majority of new residents migrated from California, followed by Texas, Arizona, and other western states.
Unsurprisingly, real estate rental and leasing was the fastest growing industry in the states by total economic output due to the growing demand for housing. Additionally, this has led to growing home prices, with the average home value currently around $307,360.
Utah is the fourth-fastest growing state with a percent growth of 1.45%, growing from 3,203,383 to 3,249,879, a growth of 46,496 people. Un other rapidly-growing states, the high birth rate of 14.
9 per 100,000 accounted for most of the population growth in Utah rather than people migrating from other states. About 62% of Utah residents are Mormon, who have an average of 3.4 children compared to 2.
1 children among all American adults.
Texas grew 1.29% from 2019 to 2020. Its current population is 29,360,759, a growth of 373,965 from 2019. This means that Texas's population grows by over 1,000 people per day. Texas has the fifth-highest birth rate in the U.S. of 13.
2 births per 100,000 people. However, only 40% of its population growth is attributed to natural increases, while 60% is due to net migration.
Recently, international migration has exceeded domestic migration, with an increase in migration from Asian countries, especially China and India.
6. South Carolina
South Carolina's growth rate from 2019 to 2020 was 1.19%, making it the sixth-fastest growing state in the U.S. South Carolina's population grew from 5,157,702 to 5,218,040, and the population has grown for nine years straight.
South Carolina's increase is due to net migration. South Carolina has some of the best weather among U.S. states, with lots of sunshine and mild winters. Additionally, the state's economy is strong, and housing is generally affordable.
Florida is the seventh-fastest growing state in the U.S., with a growth percentage of 1.12%. Florida’s population grew by 478,386, from 21,254,926 to 21,733,312.
Florida is the third-largest state by population in the United States; however, even the large net migration to the state has not been enough to raise housing values back to their pre-recession values.
Florida has no state income tax; the cost of living is relatively lower than other East Coast states and has warm weather year-round.
Washington's population grew by 1.05% between 2019 and 2020, growing from 7,614,024 to 7,693,612.
Washington has no state income and is considered to be one of the most beautiful states for its cascading mountains and national parks.
Washington is also considered to have the best overall quality of life because of its strong job market, a low poverty rate, and the overall health of its residents.
Delaware grew 1.04% between 2019 and 2020, its population increasing from 976,668 to 986,809. Un other Northeast states, Delaware is seeing a growing population and has one the ninth-fastest growing population in the U.S.
Although Delaware's cost of living index is around 8% than the national average, it is the lowest in the Northeast.
Housing in Delaware is less expensive than the national average, which, coupled with beautiful scenery and beaches, makes an appealing destination for those relocating.
Montana finishes the top ten list of fastest-growing states. Montana grew 0.98% from 2019 to 2020. Its population increased by 10,454 from 1,070,123 to 1,080,577.
Montana is one of the least densely populated states, but this is one possible reason why more people are moving there.
Most people migrating to Montana are from other western states and are settling into the state's western parts.
Which States Are Gaining, Losing Most Population During Pandemic?
The coronavirus pandemic spurred a wave of migration. Americans are moving the Northeast, the Midwest and California and into affordable Sun Belt states.
The national population expanded by 1.15 million from mid-2019 to mid-2020, according to population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Just two states — Texas and Florida — added a combined 600,000 people, accounting for more than half of the nation’s population growth over the year.
“Texas and Florida and a few other states have been really the big gainers in terms of net population growth,” says Frank Nothaft, chief economist at real estate data firm CoreLogic.
Arizona and North Carolina also attracted new residents. The biggest losers were New York, Illinois and California.
Americans clearly are moving denser urban areas and into less-dense suburban areas, says Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders. “We saw housing demand moving to lower-density areas because people need the space for home offices,” he said this week during the group’s annual conference.
The census data captures only the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic. As many office workers transition into permanent work-from-home arrangements, housing economists say the migration trends are ly to intensify. White-collar workers are able to afford more space by moving big cities and into suburban areas.
Top 5 states for population growth
The five states with the most growth expanded by a combined 900,000 people from July 1, 2019, to July 1, 2020. They are:
- Texas. Known for modest taxes and affordable housing, Texas added an estimated 373,965 residents from mid-2019 to mid-2020.
- Florida. The Sunshine State, which boasts no state income tax, grew by 241,256 people in a year.
- Arizona. Benefitting from its proximity to California, Arizona has appealed to Golden State movers. Arizona added 129,558 people.
- North Carolina. The state added an estimated 99,439 residents.
- Georgia. The state grew by 81,997 residents.
5 states losing the most population
- Pennsylvania. The state lost an estimated 15,629 people from mid-2019 to mid-2020.
- Michigan. The Rust Belt state lost 18,240 residents.
- California. Reversing a trend of population growth over the past decade, California lost an estimated 69,532 residents.
Home prices have grown eye-wateringly expensive.
- Illinois. Continuing a trend of outward migration, Illinois shrank by 79,487 people from mid-2019 to mid-2020.
- New York. The state was hit hard in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. New York lost an estimated 126,355 residents.
Why Texas is growing so quickly
Texas, the nation’s second-largest state, boasts comparatively low home prices and a relatively light tax burden. Houston, Dallas and Austin already were corporate hubs, and they’ve gained appeal.
Texas’ strong job growth makes it appealing to younger workers, Nothaft says. In recent months, two Silicon Valley stalwarts announced plans to move their headquarters to Texas. Hewlett Packard Enterprises is going to Houston, while Oracle will relocate to Austin.
“A lot of corporations are moving their headquarters to Texas because we’re business-friendly,” says Mark Dotzour, an independent housing analyst and former chief economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.
Texas imposes fewer restrictions on homebuilding than California. As a result, the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area alone has more new homes being built than the entire state of California, Nothaft says.
Even so, homebuyers in Texas face a tight inventory of homes for sale. During the third quarter of 2020, there was just a 2.3-month supply of homes, reflecting an intense seller’s market.
“Our housing shortage just gets bigger and bigger and bigger,” Dotzour says. “There’s going to be a chronic shortage of single-family houses here, and home prices are going to increase dramatically.”
However, work-from-home arrangements could open up rural areas for new homebuilding, Dotzour says. If white-collar workers never go to the office, or commute only once or twice a week, they’ll be willing to live farther away from city centers.
“Land developers have told me for three decades that most people will not tolerate a commute of more than 45 minutes each way,” he says. “My hypothesis is that people might be willing to drive 60 minutes if they only have to go in to work twice a week.”
Where does your state rank?
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